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Archive | March, 2016

Como Plan; New Midway park; Talking trash

Posted on 08 March 2016 by Calvin

Compailed by JANE MCCLURE

Como plan is approved
Many months of hard work by Como residents and business owners has resulted in the adoption of a new district plan for the Como Park neighborhood. The St. Paul City Council unanimously adopted the plan in early February.

Every one of the city’s 17 planning district is required to have a plan, and to update that plan every decade. The plans become part of the city’s comprehensive plan, and part of regional plans overseen by the Metropolitan Council.

District plans lay out a vision for a neighborhood, regarding housing and economic development, parks and trails, streets and other infrastructure, and a host of other issues. District councils and city officials use the plan to guide redevelopment, set capital budget priorities and weigh in on city issues.

The Como plan was developed over a three-year period. More than 1,000 volunteer hours went into the plan, through a process led by a volunteer committee. Several hundred people weighed in when the plan was being developed.

The plan calls for maintaining the neighborhood’s stable residential quality with sensitive, limited development and redevelopment. Future park and recreation improvements, including work at Como Park, should enhance neighborhood livability. Neighborhood connectedness should be enhanced by making the neighborhood a better place to bike and walk, with safer street crossings. Street improvements will also be a priority.

Bringing in more small and median-sized businesses to serve the community, and policies to support and protect the environment through sustainable development are also goals.

New park is taking shape
The third and final property near Griggs St. south of University Ave. has been purchased and secured for a new 5-acre park in the Midway neighborhood, The Trust for Public Land and the City of Saint Paul announced last month. “It is a rare opportunity to be able to create such a large, vibrant green space in an urban area,” said Mayor Chris Coleman. “We are thrilled that our collaboration with The Trust for Public Land will allow us to establish a community gathering space along the Green Line.”

The parcels are between Parks High School and the Central Medical parking lot on the east side of Griggs.

The Trust for Public Land acquired the parcel with private funds and donated it to the City. The other two parcels were acquired with a combination of the city’s 8-80 Vitality Funds and private funds. The owners of the three parcels also discounted the sales price in light of the land’s future use as a park. The park is located in one of the few remaining neighborhoods where an accessible neighborhood park is not within a 10-minute walk for residents.

Over the next couple of years, The Trust for Public Land will lead creative community engagement to bring together park stakeholders and raise funds to develop the park. The park will both serve as a destination along the Green Line, which has few parks along its route; and as an important local park for the neighborhood, the adjacent Gordon Parks High School community, and residents of the nearby Skyline Tower.

Currently referred to as the “park at Griggs,” the park will be named during the community planning process. Residents of Skyline Tower have long-sought community green space, and teachers from nearby Gordon Parks High School have incorporated elements of civic engagement related to parks into their innovative curriculum. A creative community engagement process will help bring these park stakeholders together with others, including Union Park District Council, the Lexington-Hamline Neighborhood Association, Wilder Foundation, and others.

City wants to talk trash
Take a survey, speak at a forum, or take a picture of your trash bill and send it to City Hall. Those are ways St. Paul residents can weigh in on whether or not the city should move to an organized trash collection system. In late February the St. Paul City Council unanimously approved a resolution launching the public input process.

Comments gathered in March and April will be used to develop draft goals and objections for developing an organized trash collection system.

St. Paul has an open garbage collection system, in which residents and business owners hire their own haulers. In organized collection, the city oversees trash collection. In St. Paul this is likely to mean dividing the city into zones served by a designated hauler or haulers. Discussion of a change has pitted haulers and customers who want to choose their own trash hauler against those who want organized collection. Support is also coming from neighborhoods where illegal dumping of trash is a problem. The city spends about $250,000 per year cleaning up dumped garbage.

The resolution adopted Feb. 24 has several goals, including placing a priority on maintaining opportunities for small, local, minority and women-owned garbage haulers, in addition to supporting living wage jobs. The council also stated a desire to provide consistent, quality customer service; provide stable and uniform rates for residents throughout the city; and improve the understanding of, and access to, garbage service for new residents and non-English speakers.

The resolution was amended, at Ward One Council Member Dai Thao’s request, to explore the need for cleared and plowed alley access for trash-removal services, emergency vehicles, pedestrian mobility, and public safety. In St. Paul, property owners must cover the costs of alley plowing. Changing that has been debated for years, and some council members said they don’t want the alley plowing debate to overwhelm the issue of organized garbage collection. They said the issue might have to be set aside for more study separately.

When sending a copy of a trash bill, residents should cross out their names and the last two numbers of their street address and send their bill. Residents can submit them by mail to Public Works, 1500 City Hall Annex, 25 W. 4th St., St. Paul, MN 55102. To e-mail, submit to allinprogram@ci.stpaul.mn.us

On Facebook, post a status with a picture of your bill and the hashtag #ShareYourBillStP. On Twitter: Tweet to, or send a direct message to, @cityofsaintpaul, or utilize the hashtag #ShareYourBillStP with a picture of your bill.

For more information about organized trash collection and updates on the process visit: http://www.stpaul.gov/organized-trash-collection

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read-a-thon

Noted children’s author to be part of Third Annual Read-A-Thon

Posted on 08 March 2016 by Calvin

Hamline Elementary brings in famed Minnesota author and illustrator of children’s books, Nancy Carlson

By RHONDA SIMONSON

read-a-thonA lot is happening at Hamline Elementary (1599 Englewood Ave.) in March. The Hamline PTA is sponsoring their Third Annual Read-A-Thon and has activities planned around the event.

When Hamline lost its mag­net status and was given a charge to fill with neighbors; the school was fortunate to have an active group of parents and teachers to form an organization that has now transitioned to the status of a PTA, with all the rights and responsibilities of the state and national Parent Teacher Association.

The PTA has set as a goal to sponsor activities that support all students in the school. Last year an Artist in Residence was hired with monies raised in the Read-A-Thon. This year the school hopes to sponsor a music residency for all students with the raised funds.

For the 2016 school year, Hamline Elementary has hired full time a recent art educator graduate from North Dakota State, Katie Laubenstein. She works with all Hamline students. “Arts in elementary school is really important as it gives kids an outlet to express themselves and serves as a great community builder,” Laubenstein said.

Nancy Carlson, the celebrated guest artist that arrived Mar. 4, added, “Art serves as a way for kids to express their feelings when they feel powerless. Also, art needs practice…so start early.” On Nancy Carlson’s website, she states that she knew when she was in kindergarten that she wanted to be an author and illustrator.

As a special kick-off for the Read-A-Thon, the PTA was the winner of a grant paid for by the Lillian Wright & C Emil Berglund Foundation. This prize spon­sored Carlson to come and talk about her books. In her school talks, she explained how she gets ideas and then sketched for the kids and left those sketches, as well as autographed books.

In addition, books have been purchased for the younger students with a continuing grant from Rozanne Ridgway. This legacy grant is given to honor Ridgway’s mom and her love of reading.
Sheila Martin, a new second-grade teacher at Hamline, commented, “I am familiar with children reading books to raise money…but the thought of a gift of a book from someone who believes in us is very powerful and generous. The Ridgway philanthropic presence in the Hamline community is a wonderful legacy.”

Carol Schjei, a longtime kindergarten teacher, is spending lots of time reading Carlson’s books and making certain her students know that taking home an autographed book is very special.

“The best thing for kids is to work together,” Carlson said. “Teaching cooperation can help in all areas of life, especially when a child needs support! Schools should have lots of time for play. I always have hope in children. I think kids now are color blind and are being taught to accept kids different than themselves.”

Kristen Reilly, a newly appointed administrative intern at Hamline, was brought in for her expertise in school climate. All year she has been glowing at the hidden gem she found when she joined the Hamline staff. When asked about Carlson’s visit Reilly said, “ I have always admired the topics she writes about. She makes feelings accessible to young students. It is neat to see her work with children with special needs.”

Hamline students are part of a school community surrounded by teachers, family, neighbors, and strangers, cheering them on in their love of reading.

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ash borer infestation map

Emerald ash borer effects now cover 77% of St. Paul

Posted on 08 March 2016 by Calvin

30,000 ash trees remain in boulevards and parks, with unknown numbers on private property

By JANE MCCLURE

ash borer infestation mapThe emerald ash borer continues its wave of destruction in St. Paul, now covering almost 80 percent of the city. In February the St. Paul Parks and Recreation Commission heard the grim update. It’s anticipated that the pests will someday destroy all of the public and private ash trees in St. Paul, and throughout North America.

Photo right: The red dots indicate actual infestations of the ash borer. When you account for one-mile radius around each infestation, you get the pink areas that indicate the infected areas of St. Paul. (Map courtesy of the City of St. Paul)

The emerald ash borer was discovered in St. Paul first in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood in May 2009. Since then, infestations have been found in Hamline-Midway, Como Park, Frogtown, Desnoyer Park, Highland Park, Lexington-Hamline, West End, Summit Hill and Summit-University neighborhoods, as well as in East and West Side neighborhoods. Measuring one mile around each infestation allows city forestry staff to determine the one-mile buffer around every infestation. “Seventy-seven percent of the city is covered,” said Rachel Coyle of the St. Paul Department of Parks and Recreation Forestry staff.

Another infestation was found in February, said Coyle.

One challenge in trying to eradicate the pests is that emerald ash borers can be present for a few years before they are detected. The insects, which look like small grasshoppers, have larvae that bore under ash bark and feed on nutrients there. That feeding behavior eventually kills trees by cutting off circulation beneath the bark.

The city has removed about 7,580 ash trees from boulevards and parks, with about 20,000 remaining on boulevards and 10,000 in parks. It’s not clear how many ash trees are on private property.

Coyle said the city would continue to treat some public ash trees. But she, and Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hahm, said that while the city’s past efforts have slowed the spread of emerald ash borer, there is no way to stop the insects.

“Treatment was meant as a containment measure, not as a way to preserve trees,” said Hahm. But with the spread of the insects, “the benefit of containment is gone.”

Another challenge for the city is that cost of replacement trees has risen. During the recession, tree sales fell, and nurseries planted fewer trees, Coyle said. Now that trees are needed by cities and private property owners, prices are higher.

One change in 2016 is that the city no longer proactively inspects ash trees on private property. Nor will it condemn private trees. Property owners will continue to be responsible for tree removal on their property. The city will continue to provide information about the spread of the infestation to property owners as requested and on the city website.

The city will also continue surveying street boulevards and parks for infested ash trees, and will be marking trees until April. Parks and Recreation hasn’t yet announced which neighborhoods will be the focus of future structured removal programs. In the programs, where there are many declining or dying ash trees in an area, crews come in and remove every ash tree. The areas are then replanted with a variety of trees. One factor in the spread of emerald ash borer is that on many streets, ash trees were the only trees planted along the boulevard. Many were planted to replace the elms lost in the 1970s when Dutch Elm Disease swept the region.

Area residents affected by structured removal will receive postcards from the city. After trees are removed, residents will receive door hangers saying what type of trees will be planted as replacements. Residents can have some say in what type of replacement tree is planted, using the city’s species list. The city is planting different species of replacement trees, to promote diversity and avoid the widespread loss of trees happening now.

The intent is to plant replacement trees in the spring or fall, depending on the species. Residents can ask the city for water bags to help the young trees.

Winter is the best time to transport ash logs and debris for disposal. September to May is the “low risk” period for spreading emerald ash borer. But Ramsey County and much of the metropolitan area has long been under a quarantine that prohibits moving of ash wood outside of the counties.
For more information about emerald ash borer and city programs, go to www.stpaul.gov/eab.

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HC_Logo

Workshop planned on health care directives

Posted on 08 March 2016 by Calvin

By WARREN WOLFE

HC_LogoIt can happen to anyone at any age—an accident, illness or mental change that leaves you needing intensive medical care but unable to communicate with the doctors.

Who would speak for you if you became unable to speak for yourself? One answer is an Honoring Choices Minnesota health care directive.

The document allows people to choose someone they know and trust to be their medical-care advocate when they are unable to act, and to put in writing things they would want their doctors and families to know about the kind of care they would want in certain medical situations.
On Sat., Apr. 16, a panel of experts will share how to make this work for you. They include Thaddeus Pope, director of the Health Law Institute at Mitchell Hamline School of Law; Dr. Ryan Greiner, a hospitalist at North Memorial Medical Center, and Greg Peterson, Roseville Fire Department battalion chief, and emergency manager.

The event will be held from 9-11am at Centennial United Methodist Church in Roseville, 1524 W. Co. Rd. C2, just east of Snelling Ave. The event is free and open to anyone.

The panel discussions will be followed by small-group discussions led by trained advance care planning facilitators. They can help individuals translate their wishes into a legal health care directive. Participants will receive copies of the Honoring Choices Minnesota health care directive, both the long form and short form, and the Roseville Vial of Life. Information about additional assistance also will be available.

To ensure that enough facilitators are on hand, organizers ask interested people to register online at http://itstimetotalk-advancecareplanning.eventbrite.com, by e-mail at parishnurse@centennialumc.org or by phone at 651-633-7644 x21.

The event, to be held on National Healthcare Decisions Day, is being organized by Roseville’s Community Health Awareness Team (CHAT), City of Roseville, Honoring Choices Minnesota, and Centennial United Methodist Church.

Honoring Choices Minnesota is a statewide campaign of doctors, hospitals, clinics, health insurers and others to help people complete health care directives.

Warren Wolfe is a retired reporter who covered aging and health care policy issues for the Star Tribune. He lives in Roseville and is active in the Roseville Alzheimer’s and Dementia Community Action Team.

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Como Park  High School column TTAP+Shoultz

Como Park Choir sings with famed VocalEssence

Posted on 08 March 2016 by Calvin

Como Park High School column TTAP+ShoultzBy ERIC ERICKSON

• Como Park Choir students participated in a special concert with the Minneapolis musical institution VocalEssence on Feb. 22. VocalEssence director G. Phillip Schoultz, III led selected Como Choir students in a concert at Como with members of VocalEssence. The relationship between Carole Whitney’s choir program and Schoultz’s renowned group is based on the VocalEssence Talented Tenth Apprenticeship Program (TTAP). The TTAP is founded on the W.E.B. DuBois theory that if you train one-tenth of any population, the talent will work its way through the entire group.

Como Choir students selected to participate were Andrew Cardoza, Raphael Forrest, Jacoria Layrock, Natalie Moua, Justine Sanchez, Ethan Wesby, Nasue Xiong, and Titi Yusuf. An enthusiastic and appreciative audience of Como Choir members and other classes from the student body gave rave reviews of the performance. The Choirs will host their next full concert in the Como Auditorium on Mon., Mar. 28.

• The Como Bands and Orchestra under Dr. Phil Fried conducted a performance on Feb. 25 in the school auditorium. An ensemble recital included works from the Band, Jazz Band, and the Strings. The Tri M program, which is the musical honor society, will host its annual variety show on Thur., Mar. 24.

• The Academy of Finance (AOF) continues to engage students with off-campus visits that help connect AOF students to their business components. Fifteen AOF students volunteered at Junior Achievement’s Biz Town on Feb. 19. On Mar. 1, 30 sophomores job-shadowed at US Bank. On Mar. 9, 30 freshmen were part of a site visit and job-shadow at Thomson Reuters, the multinational mass media company in Eagan that has established a business partnership with Como Park High. AOF is a small learning community that provides students an opportunity to study accounting, international trade, business leadership and technology in preparation for college and careers in the financial services industry.

• The Academy of Finance has another new community partnership with the Minnesota United Soccer team, which will make the Midway its permanent home after the completion of the new stadium in the neighborhood. AOF teacher Ms. Kris Somerville has coordinated “Como Night” with United for this season’s May 14 game. Como AOF students and players from both Como’s boys and girls soccer programs will be guests of the team. The team is partnering with Como to provide service and employment opportunities, support existing programs, and potentially develop internships for AOF students.

• Seventeen seniors, who are studying AP Government and AP Macroeconomics, recently returned from a unique and powerful experience in Washington D.C. The participating students were part of the national Close Up program, which promotes civic engagement and uses the capital as a living classroom. Students visited the monuments, memorials, the Smithsonian, the Supreme Court, the U.S. Capitol, and prominent Washington neighborhoods. They had meetings with their Senators and Congresswoman on Capitol Hill, and throughout the week they discussed policy issues with professionals and political experts while interacting with peers from across the nation.

• BKBM Engineers visited Como on Feb. 25 for Engineering Day. The event held in Robyn Asher’s science classroom included a presentation and several instructional hands-on activities.

• Cadets Antania Goff and Kaelah Foreman were representatives of the Como MJROTC at the MSP International Airport for the arrival of Medal of Honor Recipient Thomas Kelley (US Navy – Retired). They were part of the welcoming delegation along with several other JROTC Cadets from Minnesota schools.

• Sophomore Corey Guenther was the Section 4AA Wrestling champion in the heavyweight division. By winning the section, Guenther earned the opportunity to wrestle in the State Tournament held Feb. 26-27 at the Xcel Energy Center. Guenther lost his first-round match in State but concluded the season in the arena every Minnesota high school wrestler wants to be. Coach Tijl van der Wege is confident the young sophomore can return to the Xcel if he continues to work at a high level.

• The Lady Cougars Basketball team won the St. Paul City Conference and the Twin Cities Championship. They defeated Minneapolis Southwest in the Twin Cities Game on Feb. 27 to finish the regular season with a 22-5 record. The Cougars earned the #1 seed for the Section 4AAA playoffs which were beginning as the Monitor went to press. Look for an update in the next issue!

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